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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Lennon-McCartney and Wilson-Shea


John Lennon, left, and Paul McCartney, top, with other members of their band (public domain photo). Robert Shea decided to grow a mustache to follow their example. 

Most Beatles fan likely will recognize that the John Lennon-Paul McCartney partnership, in songwriting and in running the Beatles, was a synergy that created something greater than what either could do on their own.

I would argue that the Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson partnership that created Illuminatus!, launching literary careers for both of them, was a similar happy partnership, even if they never collaborated again.

Here is a mailing comment Shea wrote to Wilson in his Golden APA zine:

"I was stunned by your comment [to] Kevin, wherein you say you brooded over why you couldn’t finish a long book and then, collaborating with me, finished one. You see, I’ve been going around telling people that I never completed a book project before writing Illuminatus! and it was my collaboration with you, and your example of joyful productivity that taught me how to write and finish novels. I never realized that Illuminatus! was a breakthrough book for both of us. I guess I sort of assumed that you had never before written a book simply because you hadn’t gotten around to it, whereas I, who had started a number of novels and never finished any, had a 'problem'.”

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